Working with Ash wood

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Forum topic by b2rtch posted 12-11-2013 06:25 PM 2787 views 1 time favorited 30 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4861 posts in 3046 days

12-11-2013 06:25 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question ash

At work we got shipments of product which are protected with 1’x6’x4’ pieces of what looks to me to be ash wood.
I am not very familiar with ash wood and at first I tough that it was some king of pine wood as the color is very light.
But in the past, someone told me that my kitchen cabinets are made of ash wood and the figures on the cabinets and on the wood I get are very similar, very highly figured.
Now my question: since the grain goes in all directions, how am I going to joint and to plane this wood with out too much tear out ?
What about finishing, it looks like this wood would blotch a lot, what should I do?
Thank you.

-- Bert

30 replies so far

View REO's profile


928 posts in 2072 days

#1 posted 12-11-2013 06:29 PM

It machines much like oak, specific gravity is lighter so it not as hard to toss around.

View bondogaposis's profile


4727 posts in 2349 days

#2 posted 12-11-2013 06:42 PM

It’s light and strong, bends well, one common use is snowshoe frames. The pieces you have were probably used for packing because of the wonky grain. I used quite a bit of it on my workbench it is not hard to work if the grain is straight. It does machine a lot like oak, you have to be very concerned about the direction of planing and get out your card scrapers to deal w/ the wild grain.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Redoak49's profile


3242 posts in 1986 days

#3 posted 12-11-2013 06:49 PM

I like ash and have built some cabinets with it. The cost is a bit less than red oak in my area and it is available in pretty wide pieces. Ash will not be around too much longer as many trees are either dying or being cut down due to the infestations of emerald ash borers.

I find it pretty easy to work as long as the grain is fairly straight. It also finishes well for me and I use oil stain and oil based poly.

I would buy a harbor freight metal detector and go over the pieces to make certain there is not some embedded metal in it as is often the case with wood used for packing.

View knotscott's profile


8013 posts in 3373 days

#4 posted 12-11-2013 07:59 PM

Ash can be very nice looking, and is good to work with. Depending on staining and the particular grain structure, it can resemble oak, but often has nicer grain patterns.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View natenaaron's profile


442 posts in 1795 days

#5 posted 12-11-2013 08:23 PM

On top of what others said above you get the added bonus of people coming up and saying “dude, nice ash.” Always flattering to have your ash complemented.

View jdh122's profile


1010 posts in 2815 days

#6 posted 12-11-2013 09:34 PM

I’ve used ash quite a lot too and like it. As Redoak49 says, it looks like it will disappear all over north America, which is very sad.
I have had pieces that were very hard to plane without tearout and I ended up having to use card and cabinet scrapers for hours on end, but it generally works OK. I have not had problems with blotchiness – I’ve always finished it with oil and wax.

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

View b2rtch's profile


4861 posts in 3046 days

#7 posted 12-11-2013 10:35 PM

There is about no straight grain in the pieces I get, it is very pretty but surely it will be difficult to machine

-- Bert

View Paul's profile


660 posts in 4090 days

#8 posted 12-11-2013 10:47 PM

I’ve enjoyed working with Ash. Yes, more difficult to make pleasing grain pattern matches when gluing up wider boards. Yet, I don’t think you will find the machining and staining as difficult as you imagine. Of course my ash was from an old woodworker’s milled and air dried stash liquidated at an estate auction. I would guess that packing crate wood may not be fully dry.

-- Paul, Texas

View dhazelton's profile


2767 posts in 2294 days

#9 posted 12-11-2013 10:50 PM

Most of the ash trees in the woods behind my house are dead or down. Thank you emerald borer, another import from China. Burns well in the wood stove if you decide you can’t use it. I have turned some mallets from short lengths of it, about all I could think of doing with it.

View b2rtch's profile


4861 posts in 3046 days

#10 posted 12-11-2013 11:19 PM

The wood is new, no nail and no screw.
It just seats on the top of the shipment to protect it and it is held in place with plastic banding.

-- Bert

View RogerInColorado's profile


321 posts in 1952 days

#11 posted 12-13-2013 12:16 AM

I’m envious of your position. I think Ash is a beautiful wood. I read often about people making keepsake boxes from it. In addition to it’s other qualities, it is strong and useful for tool handles because it absorbs the shock of the tool striking a target (head of a hammer on a nail) instead of transmitting the shock onto your arm. It is also used for shovel handles because it is really strong and not expensive. You have a find, my friend. Make a bunch of toys and give them to a shelter.

View Grandpa's profile


3259 posts in 2673 days

#12 posted 12-13-2013 12:50 AM

Wood magazine referred to ash as the “other oak”. It finishes and machines much like oak as the others have said. No splotching. It makes many people sneeze like crazy so be prepared for that. It was used for cabinets in the late ‘60’s and in the ‘70’s in my part of the country. I think many trends begin on the coasts and work toward the center of the country so we might have been in the last part of the trend. I have make some projects from ash and found it to not bee too difficult to work with. Good luck and a great find.

View b2rtch's profile


4861 posts in 3046 days

#13 posted 12-13-2013 12:52 AM

Yes, I have a find.
We receive these shipment twice a week (every shipment fills the back of my mini-van).
I want to keep all the wood but I already run out of place to stock it.

-- Bert

View quvia's profile


103 posts in 1665 days

#14 posted 12-13-2013 01:24 AM

I love working with ash. (check my projects) Makes nice toys, Table legs, boxes etc. Finishes nice and sands smooth.

-- Ted ,Conesus,N.Y.

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Monte Pittman

29226 posts in 2336 days

#15 posted 12-13-2013 01:41 AM

I use a lot of ash. I really like it and have no complaints.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

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